Connecticut nightlife may not be on par with Miami or Manhattan, but the Nutmeg State's dance scene is more impressive than many might expect.
From the upscale experience at Hartford's Club 960 to the Latin nightlife of La Casona, to the Vegas-like atmosphere at Foxwood's Shrine, dance enthusiasts do not have to go far to party all night long, or at least until 2 a.m. Here are just three in-state dance club options.
Room 960 opened six years ago with a goal of bringing the V.I.P nightlife of Miami and Manhattan to Hartford.
"We were the first real club in the Hartford area to offer bottle service," says owner Chris Bigliardieri. "We were the first club to consistently bring big-name DJs — house DJs — from all over the world. "
The club continues to attract big names. Earlier this month, members of the Black Eyed Peas attended a Room 960 concert after-party.
"When we first opened, we were strictly house music," says Bigliardieri, "but over the years we've had the need to diversify, which is a good thing." Room 960 now has a Wednesday night hip-hop party and Top 40 music on Fridays. Saturdays, however, are still devoted to the house music the club is known for.
While the music has diversified, the clientele has not. The club still caters to young professionals who want a higher level of service than can be found at most dance clubs downtown, says Bigliardieri. Derek Beere, or DJ Kared, has been the resident DJ since Room 960 opened in 2004. "I hope that Room 960 is considered to be the premier dance-music club for house music [in Hartford]," says Beere. Room 960 is at 960 Main St. in Hartford. For details, call 860-522-9960 or visit http://www.room960.com.
For salsa dancing, Latin nightlife and authentic Latin cuisine, La Casona Restaurant and Nightclub is a popular destination at 681 Wethersfield Ave. in Hartford.
Owner Marcelo Leone calls La Casona a "one-stop shop."
"We have a restaurant on one side of the building, a bar on the other side and a nightclub in back," he says. "You can come here and spend your entire evening and not have to worry about going elsewhere."
The dance floor at La Casona caters to a salsa crowd, with many loyal customers returning every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. With a clean and upscale environment, plenty of parking and on-site food and drink, it is becoming a premier dance destination in the area.
Even those unfamiliar with salsa are welcome. Free salsa classes are offered regularly on weekend evenings.
"They're for beginners, so anybody can feel comfortable trying it out for the first time," says Leone.
La Casona regularly hosts live entertainment and resident DJs spin salsa, merengue, bachata and Top 40 music. For details, call 860-296-9929 or visit http://www.casonarestaurant.com.
Foxwood's contribution to the Connecticut dance scene is Shrine at MGM Grand. Thanks to the casino popularity, the club is consistently crowded with guests enjoying the contemporary hip-hop, top 40, and house-influenced tunes.
"When you go to Shrine, you get more than you bargained for," says John Estrada of Norwalk, a regular patron who also has been promoting nightclubs for 14 years. "It's more like a destination."
Upstairs from the nightclub, Shrine boasts an upscale restaurant serving Pan-Asian cuisine. The club has a state-of-the-art sound system, high-quality lights and guest DJs from around the country. It is also known for hosting world-travelers and celebrities.
Jason Dawson, or DJ JD, is the resident DJ at Shrine on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. He says that Shrine is different from other Connecticut clubs in its consistently energetic crowd.
"It's probably the most consistent club in New England," he says. He especially pinpoints the popularity of weekly off-night parties such as "I Love Tuesdays," which usually attracts between 400 and 600 guests, he says.
"There's a vibe there [and] a great crowd," says Estrada. "It's basically a production, it feels like Vegas."